Race-based affinity groups out: Shelburne school gives into threatened lawsuit

By Michael Bielawski
After getting a warning of a lawsuit concerning a proposed race-based affinity group in the Shelburne Community School spanning K-through-8 students, the school has acquiesced and decided that all students regardless of race can attend the group.

The group Parents Defending Education (PDE) back in January of this year filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against the Shelburne school. A story about the initial filing appeared on VDC.

According to PDE, the charge was “for discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance in violation of both Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq., and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

A premise for the affinity group was that only “BIPOC” or “Black, indigenous, and people of color” could attend. The following is an excerpt from a school letter sent out to families in November of 2022.

“We are looking to develop and opt-in racial affinity group for students in grades 3-8 identifying as black, indigenous, and people of color. If you are interested in having your child join, please contact our DEI coach, Lashawn Sells …”

After getting notice of the suit, the school responded. Below is an excerpt from the letter sent to PDE.

“The District also informed OCR [The Office for Civil Rights] that the group would not restrict membership on the basis of race or color, and that it updated the school newsletter to make clear that ‘all are welcome’ to join the group,” stated a letter to Nicole Neily of PDE dated May 1 of this year.

Violations still occurring?
Affinity groups continue to be promoted by other entities such as

“Making friends and meeting other people of color was the hardest part of living in Vermont,” their webpage states. “That is, until I started noticing outdoor affinity group meet-ups around the state. In January of 2021, a friend invited me to an Inclusive Ski Day at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.”

According to their website, “ThinkVermont is an initiative of the Vermont Department of Economic Development [VDED]” meaning they are derived from a publicly funded entity.

VDC reached out on Monday to the VDED for comment. It has not yet gotten a response.

Vermont School Board Association promoting affinity groups
PDE has made a map and blog updated with the latest headlines from across the nation concerning social issues in the classroom. 

There are 11 such headlines for Vermont, and it appears the Vermont School Boards Association [VBSA] is sending emails to school boards asking that they promote affinity groups.

According to one report, emails were sent to the Essex Westford School District’s board members in January of this year. The message stated that they have received grant money for the purpose of starting affinity groups. The VSBA cites the McClure Foundation as providing this money.

According to the McClure Foundation webpage, they are based in Middlebury and they also promote affinity groups for adults.

“Support for equity efforts, including an affinity group for VPA members of color as well as professional learning for members about diverse hiring practices,” their page states.

Another listed incident from the PDE page again involves the VSBA reaching out to boards to promote affinity groups, this time it was to the Mount Mansfield Unified Union School District’s board members.

In an email from the VSBA to the board it further states their intentions to mix social justice initiatives in policy.

It states, “Because it’s essential that board members of color have a voice in identifying and removing barriers and developing solutions to create more equitable student outcomes, VSBA’s first affinity group will bring together school board members who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC).”

The author is a reporter for Vermont Daily Chronicle.

Categories: Education

9 replies »

  1. The educationally enlightened potentate at the VSA / VSBA / VPA woke castle, promoting a barbaric racist idea for the schools? Shocked, I say. Shocked!

  2. It is apparent to me that the VERMONT SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION Is trying to start a problem in Vermont that isn’t here. When someone who moves to Vermont that is from an Indian, Negro or Colored descent and they are only interested in meeting likewise people this makes them racists. Since the population is predominantly white maybe they should try to meet their neighbors and become friends instead of trying to set themselves apart! After all we are created equal at birth. Leave it to this state to take taxpayers money to make a problem that doesn’t exist! Our School Board Association needs to be overhauled big time!

  3. Wasn’t this type of thing once termed “discrimination”, “bias”, or plain offensive, or stuff like that? Aren’t Americans in general and white individuals from varying ethnic groups disparaged for celebrating THEIR own culture and condemned for not being “inclusive”??

    Has all of this insanity of the past several years been nothing more than a bad dream? Please let me down easily in the event this is actual reality, OK?

    • No new teachers are needed as they are all brainwashed products of our woke education colleges. Ideally, parents would all pull their kids out of government run schools entirely and return to local community/neighborhood group educational efforts of all kinds and choices, with a basis of knowledge formation skills of reading, writing, math — required for independent living, and from which learning of all other subjects are obtainable and individually pursued.

      Were there an uncorrupted judicial system, some brave lawyer, on behalf of all taxpayers past and present, sue the state and federal education agencies for self-funding their corrupt education establishment that is promoting discrimination and delivers consistently deteriorating student achievement results over decades.

  4. “All are welcome to attend” just be sure to display and verbalize your label prominently so we know which one of you free thinking deplorables can be identified, harrassed, and maligned into compliance to obey our scripted talking points handed down from our Master. Our education system in a nutshell. The world is laughing at us and surpassing us. Sad, but true.

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